Time May be Running out for A-Game, as County Pulls out of Lease Deal

Time for a deal to be worked out on the A-Game Sportsplex , one that keeps it as a sports facility and not office space, may be running out.

After several months of talks and due diligence, Williamson County last week let Brookside Properties, the developer with an option to buy the property for somewhere between $16 and $20 million, know that they would not be interested in leasing the former ice hockey portion of the building.

The proposed lease, of 20-years for upwards of $1 million a year, was too much of a commitment for the county.

“We really put an effort into seeing a way to make it viable to provide services and courts there, but after several months of due diligence we decided it was not in the county’s best interest,” Gordon Hampton, county Parks and Rec director, said.

Brookside, which began due diligence to buy the property in June and save it as a Sportsplex, has gone through an extension on its option to purchase and several potential suitors for the former ice rinks, torn out last spring when a deal was still in place with SLG, the owners, to sell to AL Neyer for $16 million and convert it into an office campus with MARS Petcare as an anchor.

That deal fell through, leaving open space and concrete floors on one half and volleyball and basketball courts on the other of the building, which also has some plumbing issues and a leaking roof and years of poor maintenance by its original owners in its 15-year existence, according to court papers filed by SLG in a lawsuit indirectly related to the current situation.

Alliance Volleyball, which has a lease in place with SLG that is good through 2017, is currently allowed use of the courts while deals are being worked out. Alliance and MDG Sports Management, the Predators-affiliated hockey club that used the ice, filed suit against SLG last year after news of the Neyer deal came out — and when SLG attempted to vacate their leases early. A tentative truce was reached; MDG, which had a lease through 2019, took a buyout but Alliance, after putting a deal in place to move to Franklin Field House, walked away from that came back until the end of March, and moved back in again with a side agreement with SLG brokered by Brookside at the end of the summer.

The Predators’ hockey club, and now the county,  were potential tenants on the other side, and all passed according to a person involved in the talks.  The city of Franklin, however, is still involved in talks.

“The City of Franklin is involved in ongoing discussions regarding the future of the facility as it relates to supporting local youth sports organizations and attracting visitors to Franklin for amateur/youth sports events,” Milissa Reirson, communications director for Franklin, said.

But Trigg Wilkes, a former part-owner of A-Game and current owner of Franklin Field House, said he does not see anything happening with it.

“What I thought was, if the county took all this time trying to find a way to make the numbers work, I don’t see how the city would be able to, either,” he said.

A property tax bill of more than $220,000 is coming up for A-Game, according to Williamson County records, due on the first of the new year, and with options for potential tenants apparently running out, Brookside may decide to explore office options, or even pull out of the deal.

Bankruptcy would be a real possibility for A-Game, in that case, according to Wilkes, who knows the financial details of running the business.

“They really have  been doing everything they can to make this work,” he said. “I think there are very few people who know the numbers the way I do. If the Field House closed I think they have a shot at making it work but they would have to absorb all the income we have coming in to make it happen and that is what I said to the city and the county, by doing this deal, what have you really accomplished, when a deal was in place to accommodate everyone.”

“A lot of smart people have looked at the financials and thought the best use of that building is not what is has been.”

Brookside and SLG did not return calls for comment as of this publication.